Three Tips for Running Programs as Administrator in Windows 7

Beginning with Vista and continuing in Windows 7, new security measures were introduced that required additional steps for running certain types of programs or operations. For example, elevated administrator credentials are required for anything that affects system settings. This higher security setting is commonly referred to as “running as administrator” or “with elevated privileges”.

I have noticed that PC users are often confused about when they are actually able to run a program as administrator. Because there is a type of user account known as an "administrator" account, it is understandable that a PC user might think that using this type of account was the same as running as administrator. But in the Microsoft way of doing things, this reasonable assumption does not hold. It's confusing but there it is.

Being in an administrator account does enable certain functions not allowed in a standard account but Microsoft’s User Account Control (UAC) still requires extra steps for many operations and programs. So I have put together a description of several ways to run a program as administrator.

I will assume that you are using an administrator account in the discussion. Using a limited or standard account would be somewhat similar but in that type of account you would have to keep entering an administrator password.

I have previously described how to run the command line as administrator but the procedure is the same for any program or executable (EXE)  file. Here are three ways to run a program as administrator.

Run as administrator from the right-click context menu

  1. Right-click the program shortcut or executable file
  2. Select “Run as administrator” from the context menu
  3. Agree to the UAC challenge

Run as administrator with a keyboard shortcut

  1. Select the shortcut or executable with a single click
  2. Use the keyboard combination Ctrl+Shift+Enter (Hold down all three keys)
  3. Agree to the UAC challenge

Create a shortcut for a program to run as administrator

If you need to run a program as administrator frequently, you can save some time by creating a permanent shortcut for the program that will skip some steps. Another approach is to elevate the privileges of an executable file itself.

  1. Use an existing shortcut or create one for the program in question in a convenient place 
  2. Right-click the shortcut
  3. Select “Properties” from the context menu
  4. Click the “Compatibility” tab
  5. Put a check by the entry “Run this program as an administrator”
  6. Click “OK”

You will still get the UAC warning when you use this shortcut but it reduces the total number of steps involved in running a program as administrator. 

If you prefer, this same procedure can be applied directly to an executable program file instead of its shortcut. I like to make a separate shortcut because it gives me the option of running a program with or without elevated privileges.

And there you have it. I hope this clears up any confusion about how to run a program as administrator

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This tips section is maintained by Vic Laurie. Vic runs several websites with Windows how-to's and tutorials, including  a computer education website and a site for learning about the command line.

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